Claire Wild, Shropshire Council’s conservative portfolio holder for transport, has published a blustering defence of her handing of the Ludlow bus debacle on the Shropshire Council website. The article is factually wrong. Shropshire Council rightly takes pride in its website, but this article undermines its reputation for accurate information.

In the article, which should be withdrawn, Wild claims:

“Over the past weeks, various rumours and misinformation have been circulating over the bus services in Ludlow. As Portfolio Holder, I have been very concerned that the residents of Ludlow have not been given a full explanation of the situation and I have great sympathy with them over the problems they have been encountering.”

There has been no misinformation. Our Ludlow Lib Dem team has worked hard to ensure that residents know what is happening. In recent weeks we have been telling residents that a replacement service would be launched, but we said we had no clue what it would be. As soon as we knew the details, we handed out leaflets with new timetables.

Claire Wild told a bus driver yesterday that he should not be handing out our timetables. But they are the only timetables available in Ludlow. Shropshire Council officers tell me that they are not allowed to print copies of the new timetable for passengers because of a budget freeze.

As for Wild’s comment – “I have great sympathy with them over the problems [Ludlow residents] have been encountering” – she had so much sympathy she did not talk to a single bus user (except me) when she visited Ludlow yesterday.

Shropshire Council’s website also says:

“The deregistration date of Sunday 26 January was publically confirmed on Friday 24 January when the OTC published their Fortnightly Notice and Proceedings publication (2192).”

This is partial information. The Traffic Commissioners first circulated a notice confirming that the 701 and 722 services were to end on 13 December last year. It also seems that R&B aimed to run a replacement 701 from 27 January. It was this service, which never ran, which was cancelled in the notice issued on 24 January. The 722 – the main route – was definitely cancelled in the 13 December circular, as was the previous 701 service.

Shropshire Council could have and should have taken action on Ludlow’s buses last December.

The web page and Claire Wild’s comments are wrong and should be withdrawn. It is Shropshire Council that is putting out misinformation.

One of the consequences of the chaotic way that Shropshire Council has dealt with the bus crisis in Ludlow is that there has been no consultation over the new service. It does not serve a vital bus stop in Old Street. That leaves a significant group of passengers without any means of getting up a long hill into the town centre. The 722 service to be launched tomorrow also needs to be rerouted to give better access to the supermarkets and GP surgeries.

All this could have been resolved if Shropshire Council had taken action last December instead of waiting until the very last moment.

We have great buses now, but the service is as badly managed by Shropshire Council as ever.

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